Let’s discuss the recent heavy snow

This week’s featured article


A wide swath of the Sea of Japan coast was hit by heavy snow Sunday as a strong wintry air mass gripped much of the Japanese archipelago, snarling traffic and hampering the unified university entrance exams.

The Meteorological Agency warned that the snow would continue and be accompanied by blizzards, disrupting traffic mainly along Sea of Japan coastal areas stretching from northern to western Japan through Monday.

All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines canceled 56 and 12 flights, respectively, due to snow and strong winds, affecting over 3,100 passengers.

Bullet trains on some sections of the Tokaido and Sanyo shinkansen lines were forced to reduce speed, Central Japan Railway Co. and West Japan Railway Co. said.

Weather-induced chaos also forced the operator of the unified entrance exam for national and public universities to delay the start of the day’s testing by an hour at 12 venues in Aichi, Mie, Kyoto, Hyogo and Hiroshima prefectures. The test is also used by certain private universities.

This year saw 575,967 students apply for the exam, 12,000 more than last year.

Strong winds were forecast across much of northern and western Japan, while high waves were expected in some offshore areas.

At Sanjusangendo Hall in Kyoto, about 2,000 young adults who turn 20 this year participated in a traditional Coming-of-Age ceremony amid heavy snow, where they shot arrows at targets 60 meters away.

“The snow is very beautiful, but I couldn’t shoot the arrow as usual because it’s too cold,” said participant Akari Tsuyama, a 20-year-old student at Doshisha University in Kyoto.

The mercury plunged below zero in a number of areas nationwide, including in Oshu, Iwate Prefecture, which matched its record-low of minus 16.5 degrees Celsius.

Downtown Tokyo logged minus 2.3, while Nagoya plummeted to minus 3.6 and Osaka fell to minus 0.6.

In Tohoku, up to 2.56 meters of snow had fallen in the city of Aomori by Sunday morning, while the village of Okura, Yamagata Prefecture, was blanketed by 2.41 meters.

First published in The Japan Times on Jan. 16.

Warm up

One-minute chat about winter.


Collect words related to snow, e.g., cold, sky, white.

New words

1) archipelago: a large group of islands, e.g., “Japan and the Philippines are archipelagoes.”

2) hamper: to prevent the progress of, e.g., “Trade barriers hamper global economic growth.”

3) induce: to cause, e.g., “That medicine is supposed to induce sleep.”

4) plummet: to fall quickly or suddenly, e.g., “The company’s stock price plummeted.”

Guess the headline

H_ _ _ _ snowfall blankets much of co_ _ _ _y


1) What effect did the snow have on transportation systems?

2) How many places delayed college entrance exams due to snow?

3) Did the temperature fall below zero in Tokyo?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Do you like the snow?

2) What do you do when transportation systems are affected by the weather?

3) What would you do if heavy snow was forecast for your entrance exam or Coming-of-Age Day?







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